Spotlight On: Dragonica Online

Dragonica Online is a free-to-play sidescrolling hack-and-slash online game, similar to Final Fight or Double Dragon, but with character classes, magic spells, items, and micropayments. The game, which was originally released in China as "Dream Dragon," will set itself apart from other...

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Dragonica Online is a free-to-play sidescrolling hack-and-slash online game, similar to Final Fight or Double Dragon, but with character classes, magic spells, items, and micropayments. The game, which was originally released in China as "Dream Dragon," will set itself apart from other sidescrolling games of this kind by using 3D graphics to move along the Z-axis, into and out of the backgrounds, as well as, on occasion, to choose different paths.

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Expect to pummel things repeatedly until they fall over in Dragonica Online.

Though the game will have many of the trappings of a traditional massively multiplayer game, it'll also have a lighthearted sense of humor and won't take itself too seriously. One of the levels we saw in action was a dock area near the ocean, where our enemies were walking sharks dressed as pirates. Like with other sidescrolling beat-em-ups, you'll defeat your enemies by pummelling them repeatedly if you choose a combat-oriented class, such as the warrior or archer (which fights enemies by repeatedly shooting them with arrows), though some of game's other classes, such as the magician and the thief, fight in other ways. Like in some sidescrolling games, Dragonica Online will have a combo counter that will reward you for continuously beating the living daylights out of your enemies, in this case, with bonus experience points. The game will also have a "monster chest" feature that essentially acts as a continuous "go-and-kill-100-of-these-enemies" quest for each type of monster. Killing the however many enemies of that type over the course of normal gameplay will net you extra rewards, such as extra-powerful items.

Aside from hacking and slashing, the game will offer central hub areas, such as neutral towns, which will be places where you can chat safely with other players, join community events driven by THQ ICE's community team, find a partner for the game's upcoming "marriage" system (which will eventually let two characters marry each other and use married-couple-only special abilities), as well as to find hunting companions for parties of up to four players in size. The game will even feature platforming elements, such as jumping puzzles.

Dragonica Online is scheduled for release this fall, simultaneously as a free client and in a retail box that will sell at a price point at or around $20 US. The retail box will offer exclusive content to those who buy the box, but the game will otherwise be free-to-play with microtransactions for cosmetic items such as clothing, and for some minor consumable items (such as potions that temporarily boost the rate at which you gain experience) for players who have less free time and more spare cash.

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